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The Waning of Materialism$
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Robert C. Koons and George Bealer

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199556182

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199556182.001.0001

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Varieties of Naturalism

Varieties of Naturalism

(p.365) 18 Varieties of Naturalism
The Waning of Materialism

Mario De Caro

Oxford University Press

It is a commonly held view that in the last few decades a vast naturalistic turn has taken place in the philosophical world, especially in the analytic community. However, in the philosophical tradition naturalism has taken several forms. Therefore, in order to distinguish most forms of contemporary naturalism from the traditional ones, the label ‘scientific naturalism’ can be usefully employed. ‘Scientific naturalism’ is characterized by three fundamental claims: (a) philosophy should not appeal to any supernatural concept; (b) philosophy has no foundational role to play with regard to science; and (c) philosophy should be seen as continuous with science. According to some philosophers, however, scientific naturalism is nothing more than a sophisticated form of scientism. In light of these premises, it is not very surprising that contemporary metaphilosophy is mostly concerned with either analyzing marginal aspects of scientific naturalism (which do not really address its basic claims) or discussing the polarization between scientific naturalism and anti-naturalism. It need not be so, however. Significant indications of what one may call ‘liberal naturalism’ can in fact be found in the works of some important contemporary philosophers. What is still missing, though, is a clear definition of what the boundaries of liberal naturalism are with regard to both scientific naturalism, on the one hand, and antinaturalism, on the other hand. In general, it can be said that liberal naturalists tend to be partially critical of the three scientific naturalist claims given above, without refusing them altogether (as most antinaturalists would). The notion of compatibility of philosophy and science is a complex one. Some proposals for making it more precise are discussed in this chapter.

Keywords:   scientific naturalism, scientism, liberal naturalism, supernatural, science

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